Citizenship, loyalty and belongingness

Thousands of Filipino-born Americans cheered vehemently for Manny Pakyaw for “The Fight of the Century” boxing title against American Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in May this year. From time to time, we hear about some South Asians in the UK feeling gloomy when the English cricket team wins against Pakistan or India (their ancestral homes). My first work supervisor in Australia was a New Zealander, and I believe he celebrated in the comfort of his Brisbane home (Australia) the win of the All Blacks against the Wallabies/Aussies in yesterday's Rugby World Cup 2015.

Sport is one of the primary means through which citizenship and belongingness are contested and resisted. The teams we cheer for, flags we fly, anthem we sing and colour of clothes we wear are a part of our interpretation, as individuals or groups, of the cultural, linguistic and national connections that unite or divide us. These days, such connections are quite complex as the very concept of a national identity is challenged and redefined (sometimes as multiple identities) and dual citizenship have become more common than ever.

Globalisation, migration and family relationships have (and will continue to) changed individual and collective identities within a nation. At the same time, international connectedness has been confirmed by membership to organisations, e.g. European Union, creating a new kind of identity that is different from what is traditionally associated with a single country. Likewise, constant economic, political, social and cultural developments contribute to the transformation of our identity and sense of belonging, which aid or complicate our rights and responsibilities as citizens of one or more countries.

Sports and Pubs

Last fortnight, I watched the Australia-Fiji game as part of the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. It wasn’t the first time I sat in front of the television screen looking more at men’s gluteus maximus (backside/behind/bums/buttocks) than the ball. It wasn’t also the first time I was in the pub; and like the others, it has a lively decoration and variety of beverage on offer (the pineapple, mango and coconut delight attracted my attention).

The Rugby World cup is the third most watched sporting event in the world after the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup and the Summer Olympics. (football in Europe while soccer in Australia & USA)

There are two kinds of rugby: Rugby Union and Rugby League. The League has 13 players on the field while the Union 15. The former has a six tackle rule which is not the case with the latter. In League a try is worth 4 points, goal is 2 points and field goal or drop goal 1 point. In Union a try is 5 points, conversion kick 2 points, and penalty kick or drop goal is 3 points each.

The Rugby Union World Cup was first held in New Zealand and Australia in 1987 and is since held once every four years involving the top 20 teams (those that have qualified) from around the world. The 2011 champion was New Zealand, the Blacks. At the end of October, we’ll know who are the best rugby men in 2015.







Immigration, Asylum Seeking, Refugeeing and Accommodating

It’s “the worst refugee crisis since World War II” – I can’t agree more as I very sadly see every day on the news thousands of men, women and children looking starved and exhausted in unsafe boats, desperate individuals and families crawling under and climbing fences, and dead bodies found in seas and abandoned vehicles (such as last week’s discovery in Austria).

Any discussion about migrants and refugees is complicated, complex and emotionally-laden thus we really have to be careful in our choice of words and with our behaviours.

Foremost of all, there are significant differences between immigrants and political refugees. The latter don’t have a choice but flee because of well-founded fear of persecution, illegal imprisonment, torture or murder.

Then there’s what’s commonly known as political correctness (PC), which is about the avoidance of language and ideas that may offend members of a particular group and lead to discrimination. PC first appeared publicly in the 70’s. A decade later, it was well into the consciousness of many educated and well-informed people.

“Illegal” entry and asylum seeking had been a paramount concern in Australia before it became a crisis in Europe. In the late 80’s, while working for the Queensland Government (Australia) as Policy Resource Officer on multiculturalism, I realised the necessity of PC for a harmonious and just society. Australians try to avoid colour identification with their use of Non-English Speaking Background (NESB)- and English-Speaking Background (ESB)- Australians to refer to those who originally come from Asia & other non-English countries and those from the UK & other English-speaking nations, respectively. Also, they often attach the national or ethnic origin of the person to the word ‘Australian,’ such as Asian-Australian (as in the USA: African-/Asian-/Latin-American).

Remembering Eizaburo Okuizumi(奥泉栄三郎)1940 – 2013

Remembering Okuizumi Eizaburo: "Purposeful serendipity"

I have known Mr. Okuizumi Eizaburo for over 20 years. He has been my friend, personal librarian, a sort-of father figure, and above all, a super senpai and sensei.

His help was too natural to notice. As Professor Norma Field wrote for his memorial service: "And I'm so very glad to be with so many of you who are feeling the loss that we could not have calculated because he was so always there, always helping before we even knew that we needed the help."

Okuizumi-san gave me the opportunity to work with him as a translator. His interests included: World War II, Japan's defeat, censored publications in occupied Japan, nationalism, militarism, the freedom of press, history of Japanese newspapers, etc. I was curious enough to translate the materials, but I was absolutely uninterested in these topics. In my ignorance, I thought they were things all lost to history.

I have suddenly come to appreciate all of them, which seem to have gained new relevancy and urgency in the long wake of Fukushima 3.11.

As Professor Field wrote, he was not only a librarian, but also "a scholar in his own right." Her account is especially insightful with regard to his helpfulness, "his own quiet learnedness," and “purposeful serendipity."

"And so that kind of purposeful serendipity, that seems to characterize his life, I think has affected and benefited us all. … So I felt again here a very purposeful serendipity, if it is true that it was accidental that he got into this field. That purposeful serendipity, I felt in some ways explains the mystery I felt about him and the mystery that is not. That is to say, he was that extremely unusual person in our line of business, who was very, very capable, learned, and just went about doing his business quietly, in his understated way without calling attention to it."

His "purposeful serendipity" continues to this day and beyond, and therefore can keep his works alive.

奥泉栄三郎 (1940-2013) さんを慕って




Peter Rothstein氏は、彼の「百科事典のような知識と寛大さ」にふれている。



From Fish & Chips to Pizza & Mozzarella then WORLD EXPO

Long queues at Calais but, fortunately, the ferry was under 20 minutes late in crossing the tunnel. The traffic in Dover was fairly smooth sailing considering that it’s the long summer holiday and Europeans move a lot, thus I got to Cambridge University as scheduled. My son’s graduation went very well though I understood but a few words in the purely Latin ceremony. It was a showcase of a truly English academic tradition.

England is a member of the European Community (EC) but not of the Euro Zone. It is a highly disciplined country where drivers stop at traffic lights, respect give-way signs, don’t go over speed limits and park in authorised places only. Its skies are constantly grey with sparkling rain. I love the English sense of humour and I’ve never met a ‘Pom’ (as Australians call them) who can’t tell at least one good joke.

Only a day of rest and I headed to Italy. My diet of fish and chips, sausage rolls and meat pies adorned with green salad was replaced with pizza, pasta and mozzarella. Generally, while the English are reservedly polite, the Italians are expressively gracious. In Naples, I witnessed these hilarious yet dangerous situations: A woman driving a motorcycle with a mobile phone between her tilted head and left shoulder; 2 women on a motorcycle (again) and one of them (the back rider) was holding 2 helmets with her right hand while moving her left hand as if giving traffic directions; drivers optimising 2 lanes into 3; motorists and motorcyclists over taking in a hurry and don’t give way readily to pedestrians on designated crossings. Meanwhile, unlike in England, from the north to the south of Italy, it didn’t rain for nearly a fortnight (while I was there) and the temperature was over 30°C.





Why does the U.S. have military bases in Japan?

Nice video! To add a little more information to it, not only the US taxpayers’ money is spent to retain 800 US military bases, but also astronomical sums of money have been spent from the rest of the world!

For example, the US-Japanese governments plan to build a new military US base in Henoko, Okiwana. The Japanese taxpayers’ money has been currently used for all the expenses associated with relocation, construction, and maintenance of the US military bases. If we have a new base for 200-year service life in Henoko, it would cost 1 trillion 500 billion yen.

Not surprisingly, local opposition has been growing stronger.

We know that the US military bases are not to defend Japan. What then is the democratic legitimacy to keep all the US military bases in our country!?

Real trophy in life

Two weeks ago, I participated in a club chess tournament not because I’m a naturally competitive and gifted (i.e. in chess) person, but to have fun and please my son. It’s an annual event when children and their parents join in a friendly competition. Some parents find excuse not to participate, such as “really hopeless in chess” and “can’t stay the whole afternoon due to other commitments.” I was the only female joiner. I was happy not because I got a lovely trophy for finishing 2nd among the parents but because my son was proud of me. He beamed with gladness recalling how his 3 friends had difficulty winning against his mum, especially that one of them said, “I had to use my tower and knight just to take your mum’s pawn.” Another added, “She didn’t give up at all, she kept on depending until her king was cornered.” His joy and pride was the most rewarding trophy for me.

I’m absolutely certain that if I finished last in that competition, he would still have been proud of me due to my willingness to share his interest and experience defeat. In chess competitions, everybody shakes his/her opponent’s hand before and after each game and winners often explain to his/her opponent how the loss could have been avoided (which contributes in the improvement of future performances). These two demonstrations of sportshumanship are not evident in other sporting competitions. As well, participants mingle or play together (other sports like football) during the break.

Okinawa 2 (I love Okinawa)

I visited Okinawa last month. Okinawa hosts 74 % of the U.S. bases on 0.6 % of the land. Despite overwhelming opposition, the Japanese government is taking the lead in efforts to build a new U.S. military base in Henoko Bay, emphasizing the deterrence value of the U.S. bases in Japan. Our policy makers want to proceed with the construction "shuku shuku to (calmly and solemnly)."

It is shockingly mindless and undemocratic to disregard the Okinawans' will. Here are some of useful websites on anti-U.S. base acitivities and protests (see the Japanese version – four of eleven sites are in English).

  1. 辺野古(新基地阻止)基金
  2. 辺野古への土砂搬出反対 協議会が発足
    (辺野古に埋め立てる土砂が足りず、多府県からけずって運搬する。すべては米軍のために ― なんとも馬鹿げている)
  3. 映画が描く沖縄基地問題と日本の選択
  4. 『戦場ぬ止み(いくさばぬとぅどぅみ)』劇場予告編
  5. 三上智恵監督インタビュー
  6. New Wave to Hope宮島玲子さんらの活動
  7. 米軍基地はもういらない〜辺野古の海を守る人々
  8. チョムスキー氏「反基地に奮闘する県民、県政を強く支持」
  9. "All Japan" versus "All Okinawa" - Abe Shinzo's Military-Firstism 「オール・ジャパン」対「オール沖縄」 安倍晋三の軍事最優先主義
  10. Economics of U.S. base redevelopment sway Okinawa mindset
  11. Looking at Flaws in the Henoko Landfill Permit Process from the Standpoint of the Right to Self-determination

大好きだよ沖縄 2(希望としてのおきなわ)

20代の頃、ベニスのある詩人にたずねた。「イタリアの人は、どうしてこんなに温かいのだろう?」すると。「クリマ、クリマ (clima, clima)」気候のせいだよ、という即答がかえってきた。




Beauty, Love and Health

Lately, I've been bumping into online photos of Pierce Brosnan (James Bond Golden Eye, Mamma Mia, TV series Remington Steele, etc.) and his wife. There seems to be a fascination for the couple's physical attributes: “Pierce Brosnan should be able to get any woman he wants, but the 60-year-old is sticking with his overweight wife” (Celebromance.com March 7/14), which I find stomach-turning. Most women, me included, would exchange place with Kelly any time to have the love and devotion of a partner or husband. Likewise, we rather be with a physically unattractive but faithful and caring spouse than otherwise.

Our concept of beauty is learned and transmitted through family values, cultural traditions and socialisation via formal education, entertainment and the media (print, audio-visual and internet). Generally, beauty is not only about face and weight; it involves smell, movements and a combination of all the individual's qualities that please our senses and mind.

Beauty is the label we attach to different criteria based on what we've been(and are..) socialised into, experienced and exposed to regularly. It is relative and not universal as it means different things to different people. For example, Samoans and Mauritanians consider big women as more desirable and make better wives. (“Samoa's prime minister has called for his nation's women to stay away from international beauty contests because they favour skinny and scrawny-looking women” (Samoaobserver, 6/10/13).

Okinawa 1

I would like to share this song titled "Okinawa, Let's stand up now" -- it is about decades of Okinawan struggle (ongoing) and is written by Hiroji Yamashiro (lyrics) at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Center. The song is originally in French, I think (Ah! Le joli mois de Mai à Paris), a protest hymn of May 1968.

大好きだよ沖縄 1

「沖縄 今こそ立ち上がろう」


辺野古では今日もこの曲が歌われていることだろう。「美しき五月のパリ」(Ah! Le joli mois de Mai à Paris) のメロディーにあわせて。

沖縄の()()は 沖縄が(ひら)
戦さ世を(こば)み 平和に生きるため
今こそ立ち上がろう 今こそ(ふる)い立とう


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